Birds of a feather flock together, they say. When Xiaoming met Xiaoming, two young men who have both travelled the world on bikes and happen to share the same name, creative juices began to flow and a year later they became the proud co-creators of the first Chinese-designed touring bicycle brand: Boskey.
Cyclist turned designer
32-year-old Shao Ming and 24-year-old Zhao Yueming just celebrated the first anniversary of their workshop Boskey, named after the brand of touring bikes they designed. The current two models “Overlander” and “Xing” are selling at the rate of about 50 bikes a month. Their new model, a tandem bicycle called “Twogether”, will be available later this year.
The apple of Xiaoming and Xiaoming's eye: Boskey bike. Photo: Courtesy of Shao Ming
The name Boskey was taken from the English word “bosky”, meaning “having abundant trees or shrubs”. The two picked the word from a dictionary. They liked the sound and the meaning, which reminded them of their days on the road. The letter “e” was added to get rid of the “Russian-ness” of the word. In Chinese, the brand was aptly translated as “Bu Si Qi”, meaning “Cycling Never Die”, the most sincere wish of both the two cyclists.
The idea of designing a bike of their own was born when Zhao Yueming was preparing to cycle the Pan-American Highway last spring. Just back from his six-month trek across the Eurasia continent, he was low on supplies, and was particularly in need of a good touring bike. Shao Ming, who was running a cycling equipment store at the time, offered to help him find a sponsor, but to no avail.
Touring bikes, especially good ones were not easy to come by in China. For the Chinese, cycling was never a big sporting activity. Bicycles are considered simply as a tool of transportation. Even though there is a growing interest in cycling tours, most of the cyclers would just make do with a mountain bike as the industry was yet to catch up with the new trend and the awareness of the importance of right equipment is almost non-existent.
The only Chinese bicycle maker producing standard touring bike at the time declined to sponsor Zhao with a new bike. Shao Ming wanted to give him his own bike, but it was not the right size. Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes. The two young men settled on a new approach: “Why don’t we just build a bike ourselves?"
Zhao Yueming (left) and Shao Ming (right) posing with their bike. Photo: Courtesy of Shao Ming
Shao Ming graduated from Tsinghua University’s Academy of Art and Design and Zhao Yueming majored in finance in college. None of them have a degree in design. But their strength lies somewhere else.
Having been a bike aficionado for years, Zhao Yueming is a self-made expert on all things bicycle. Shao Ming, who has been going on cycling tours around the world since 2006, is rich in experience and knows very well the requirements for different bicycles on different tours. Together, they make a good team.
At first they just wanted to make a bike for Zhao. But a trip to a welding workshop shocked them as the welding alone cost 4,000 yuan per frame. Yet the high price made them even more determined to design and build a cheaper touring bike but still of good quality. “We prepared for the worst scenario: invest some money, make some bikes, and if no one wants them, we’ll just keep them ourselves.”
It took the two young men months to hash out the details of their design and find factories that would help them build the bikes. And Zhao Yueming’s travel plan was indefinitely postponed because of this new pet project. After quite some effort, one factory finally agreed to make 10 bikes for them. They posted the information online and asked if anyone wanted a bike from them. The many friendships they made on the road turned to be of great help. Within a day, all the ten bikes were booked.
The core design of the Boskey bikes is the frame. “One degree’s difference could make a very different riding experience,” Zhao Yueming explained. “We aim to design a bike that best suits the Chinese people’s physique, thus could reduce the injuries to the rider’s body to the minimum.” They worked with Fittinglab.com, a data collecting website which provided them with tens of thousands of useful data, which they used to adjust their design.
Close-ups of Boskey frames, heart and soul of the brand. Photo: Courtesy of Shao Ming
Every single one of their bikes was tested for endurance before they were shipped to their owners. Shao Ming and Zhao Yueming used a new testing system which combined the European standard and the Japanese standard to make sure that their bike could carry the maximum of weight and still have a long service life.